“A starting point was this idea of how strongly smell can take us back to our memories”: Léa Mysius on The Five Devils
The Five Devils is the intoxicating coming-of-age film from Léa Mysius, which weaves magic realism into an otherwise realistic world, contrasting a young swimming coach’s (Adèle Exarchopoulos) present-day existence in a strained relationship with her partner (Moustapha Mbengue) with her past in flashbacks, visited in visions by her daughter (Sally Dramé), who seems to possess time-travelling powers through her sense of smell. The arrival of aunt Julia (Swala Emati) then brings that past colliding into the present, with chaotic consequences.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking to the director about how an initial striking image of a fire and a young woman with a gift for smell sparked the idea of the script. Mysius told us about the casting process, explaining her choice to cast Exarchopoulos – an explosive and lively actress – as a restrained character. The director also praised young Dramé’s wise gaze, noting her first-time appearance in front of the camera. We discussed the magical realism in her project, where it is used as a playful way to explore profound, universal themes, such as existential questions and the concept of conditional or unconditional love from parents. She emphasised that cinema allowed her to invent her own magic and create a film that was fun, engaging and thought-provoking.
The Five Devils is released in UK cinemas on 24th March 2023 and on MUBI from 12th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Five Devils here: